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It is unbelievable, awful, and horrible to make people think that they will not go to heaven if they use condoms. Implementing policies to allow that is just a crime against humanity! What kind of belief is that? It would have been very interesting to ask African politicians to give their opinion on that.
Wilfrid Flanda, London, UK
The Catholic Church takes a holistic approach to the questions surrounding love and sex it shines as a beacon of hope in a world obsessed with simplistic scientific solutions that are always flawed and fail. Evidence is in Britain the most anti catholic country on earth with the highest levels of STDs, teenage pregnancy lack of respect for the individual liberal abortion and masses of pro condom sex education, shame on the British death culture heralded by the BBC.
Simon Bellord, Woking
As the Catholic church loses its influence and control of the masses they are clearly willing to try anything (including putting their own followers) at risk in order to propagate this rubbish. Its interesting they don't suggest an alternative.
Conrad Simpson, London
The HIV virus varies in size but is approximately 100 nanometres (one millionth of a millimetre). A spermatozoid (sperm cell) by contrast measures 3000 nanometres. The official norm for intra-molecular spaces in latex condoms is 25 nanometres which is more than enough to combat the spread of the virus. The only defence open to Cardinal López Trujillo (Panorama 27 June 2004) is that perhaps not all latex condom manufacturers observe or sustain these high quality standards.
Keith Sawyer, Bristol United Kingdom
I believe there was reasonable objectivity in the programme. I like what has been done in Uganda - encouraging abstinence and being faithful, but not refusing the use of condoms to control spread of disease. As a Christian, I don't believe I am prevented from going to Hell by any of my own deeds, but as a gift from my Saviour. If my salvation depended on my works I could never be saved from Hell.
Stephen Mason, Aberdeen, Scotland, UK
Yet another anti-Catholic programme from an anti-Catholic BBC, the public service broadcaster which is supposedly 'impartial'. The programme stayed away from the central, fundamental, theological reasons for the Catholic Church's opposition to contraception, teachings which are accepted by millions as profound and the way forward. Why do people and governments blame deaths from aids on the Catholic Church when millions of unborn children are killed worldwide thanks to abortion. What hypocrisy.
Richard Marsden, Hull, UK
It seems a lot of people here did not actually watch the programme. To the clear disappointment of the reporter, many of the Catholic Church's claims were verified. Even the best condoms fail, poor practice and poorly-made condoms increase the failure rate considerably, as African evidence shows. "Safe" sex is a lie. Telling people they can behave as they like and be "safe" using condoms is what is condemning many to death, not teaching abstinence.
Alex, York UK
The comment of the woman that if she used a condom she would go to hell really got to me. As an Anglican I believe that Jesus died on the cross to give us the victory and to forgive our sins. The catholic church should move on and give this notion to Africa. Even if they continue to view condom use as sinful at least they will understand they will still go to the Kingdom of heaven as one of God's children.
Samantha Annison, Coventry, England
Thank you Panorama. Glad you've lent your powerful voice to those disagreeing with the Catholic Church's position. We have a (small) chance now to draw some positive benefit from the situation. If the Catholic Church could be persuaded to publicly reverse their position this could cause enormous pro-condom publicity around the world. This is more likely to be achieved through objective, scientific reporting, such as the Panorama programme, than shrill condemnation. Is it ridiculously optimistic to hope that they might listen to reason?
John, Newport-on-Tay, Scotland
Would the producers of Panorama like to replace the bigoted anti-Catholic Mr Bradshaw with someone better able to look at major world issues such as HIV/aids by questioning positions from a broader spectrum of religious ethics? I am sure that Hindu, Muslim and Jewish experts would join Catholic Christian ethicists, as they do in the United Nations, in condemning the wholesale imposition of secular liberalism on a world that neither wants it nor needs it. Make your case against more than just your easy-to-blame scapegoat if you dare. I thought it was BBC policy to consider all faith perspectives and not to isolate and focus constantly, albeit for the purposes of bullying and ridiculing, on only one major world religion.
JP II defender, Somewhere, British Isles
Your programme needed to explore the link between condom use and promiscuity, because anecdotal evidence indicates that that is the real problem. Dr Hearst's comment that there is no evidence to confirm a link was not followed up. The conclusion for the programme has missed the point.
Mr J Jones, Kingston, England
Condoms are irrelevant. Its not condoms that kill, its the promiscuous lifestyles that many choose to lead that kills. HIV, and a host of other STDs are spread by multiple partner sexual activity. The only answer to long term sexual health is Abstinence and then marriage to a uninfected person, and then remain totally monogamous and faithful. You don't need the church to preach that one - its obvious and logical.
Jews, Christians and Muslims I know for a fact preach this as basic family values. Its not the popular choice but its the best one I know.
Jake Purches, Worthing, Sussex
The Catholic Church's policy on contraception is given in the form of a Papal encyclical which within the church are just the views of a Pope at a particular time and not when he speaks on 'The chair of Peter' which it is then believed that he speaks as the mouthpiece of god. If Catholics and I assume this means the current Vatican had to believe all encyclical they would have to believe the world was flat, as I think there is a 5th Century encyclical to this effect.
Martin Whelan, Burnley, Lancashire
Condoms are regarded as intrinsically evil because they thwart the first purpose of sex - children - (they also encourage sex outside marriage) - Christ's teaching in Matt 13.19 is that neither fornicators nor adulterers will enter the Kingdom of heaven. To allow condoms to save a life
almost certainly means enabling an act of fornication or adultery. To save one's eternal
soul is infinitely more important than to save one's life.
Patrick Pike, London, England
I was very disturbed to hear the African Bishop interviewed say that the' doctrines of Christ can be hard' in response to a question as to whether it was right that a woman knowingly had sex with her HIV husband without protection because she believed that she would go to Hell and miss the blessings of God if she used a condom. As a practising Christian, I know there is no such doctrine or teaching of Christ which covers this and to use fear of Hell as the motivating factor to ensure condoms are not used is a gross abuse of scripture by the Roman Catholic church. What God does say in scripture, is that the 'shepherds of the flock' who lead them astray will be severely punished - and I believe many of the Catholic 'shepherds' will be faced with this accusation when they finally meet their maker.
Dr Stuart Chalmers, Milton Keynes, UK
The Catholic Church is being completely irresponsible. It promotes pre-Cartesian attitudes and beliefs to a vulnerable part of world society on a contemporary problem more relevant to medical science. Together with the world's authorities on sexual health, they could do a great deal to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS. But the Vatican's purpose is to further the interests of Catholicism and not it's followers.
Steve Knight, Northampton, England
The solution to aids is to encourage sexual abstinence before marriage and sex only within monogamous relationships. Free confidential medical services for positive testing of aids should be available to all who have had sexual activity before marriage. Then both prospective partners before a new marriage can take responsibility for the conduct of their relationship after marriage. In that situation if one of the partners is found to have aids, both could agree that condoms should be used in their new marriage. In such marriages, the overriding rule would be no sex without condoms, which means, of course, such couple would remain childless. The American Christian 'Silver Ring' approach, no sex before marriage, has great merit.
William Serjeant, Hlockley, England
What is the world coming to? The catholic church has the moral obligation to support and educate its young people in the use of condoms in the prevention of the spread of HIV/AIDS. I find it offensive that the Vatican can be so forth right to condemn so many to their death through their teachings and lack of education. No wonder religion is playing a lesser part in Western society.
T Black, Scotland
I have just watched the Panorama episode about the catholic church's view point on condoms. As a practising catholic I was horrified (and ashamed of my blinkered faith) to hear the cardinal from Uganda say that the woman who slept with her HIV infected husband without a condom was right to do so because she was following her principles.
It was evident from her interview that she had done so, not through any principle, but because she feared eternal damnation in Hell. How can the Catholic church seriously allow people to be living in this man-made fear. No where does the Bible tell people not to protect themselves from a virus that will kill. I have one question for the Catholic leaders who make up these laws; "What would Jesus do?"
Please think carefully before our religion kills more innocent people.
Nicola Lawrie, England
Isn't it typical of the EU, when faced with opposition, to label its foes as 'bigots'? The Church truly cares for the souls of its people in Africa and Latin America. Occasionally that means making tough decisions on their behalf. In contrast, the well-fed Nordic apparatchik featured on the Panorama programme could only blather on about the importance of a 'sex life'. 'Ja, and maybe they would be happier listening to Kraftwerk and moving out of their hovels and into some cool apartments.' The Ugandans interviewed, whatever their point of view on the question of condoms, came across as far more moral, centred and truly human than that silly specimen. Perhaps if he left the Brussels bubble and lived among the people for whom his aid budgets are intended, he might come to realise who the bigots are.
Sam Wright, Carlisle, England
If we all believed what the Vatican has told us to be the truth the earth would be flat and we would still be burning people for witchcraft. Why do people still listen to this nonsense. The case of the lady who stopped using condoms with her infected husband is clearly suicide, does the Vatican condone that?
Richard Morton, Gex France
Any decent person must surely agree that the ABC approach is logical, safe and humanitarian approach. Yes, preach abstinence, yes, promote behaviour change, but never ever deny the human right to freedom of choice to use a condom. I believe it is now up to Catholic individuals across the world to urge their Church to change their dogmatic, outdated, and downright evil stance that unfortunately shows immense disregard for the human race. To misquote, abuse and blatantly twist scientific evidence to support just one man's misplaced opinion is a blatant crime against humanity. If prosecution in the law courts is what it takes, so be it, but for the sake of the Church, which is important to so many, I urge that a considered, and rational change of policy is the best way forward.
Ian Parnell, Edinburgh, UK
As well as distorting Vatican claims and ignoring the arguments showing that sexual abstinence is indeed the most effective way to stop the spread of AIDS, Bradshaw's hostile manner towards Catholic leaders and superficial line of inquiry were guaranteed to generate more heat than light. A disappointing programme, and one which was disturbingly patronising towards Ugandans.
Francis Murphy, London, UK
The Catholic Church's attitude to condoms really is bizarre. It is so obviously leading to the unnecessary deaths of people who do not feel they can choose to use a condom. I was brought up as a Catholic and find I am not a believer now. I dislike a religion whose main female protagonist is defined by her sexual status. The real tragedy is those people whose identity is so wrapped up in their faith, that to disobey this extraordinary edict from the Vatican would lead to them being shunned by their own people. The question I ask is - why is the Catholic Church taking this attitude?
Frances Bellord, Bath, England
I found this Panorama episode absolutely disgraceful. I'm sick and tired of the BBC and the whole media at large siding on the humanism side while constantly scrutinising religions. Panorama's presenter tried to tell us that "everyone should use condoms because everyone has sex and cannot be faithful to one another" while scrutinising religion's view of "be faithful, abstain until marriage and stick to one partner".
The presenter clearly lacks intelligence showing us that his view is "the higher moral ground" portraying bishops as ignorant and inhumane and out of touch with the world at large. I'm sorry but it was absurd. I feel the BBC and Panorama have made a big mistake in this program and they will be proved wrong in time as they realise that this constant negative portrayal of religious views will backfire on them.
Sam, London - England
As usual the BBC has allowed its anti-Catholic bias to show by allowing Steve Bradshaw to vent his spleen. Far from allaying fears over the safety of condoms he has reinforced the case. He was careful to be selective in his research and chose only people who were involved in the promotion of condoms. He absolutely avoided the technical services magazine for the rubber industry "Rubber World June Edition 1993" which proves the Cardinals case. Rubber World is written by rubber chemists. They are absolutely impartial in the papers and facts that they produce. I am happy to take on Steve Bradshaw any time any place anywhere for an interview...if he has the cahooneys for it (not rubber I hope!)
Eileen McCloy, Glasgow, Scotland
I wish to thank and congratulate you for publishing a stand against the irrational and scandalous teaching of the Roman Catholic hierarchy on the use of condoms.
Mary Murphy, Wexford, Ireland
I agree with the Catholic Church - to a point. As a Muslim, we are simply not permitted to have free sex outside the sanctity of marriage. My Wife remained a virgin until I married her at the age of 34. The solution to AIDS is abstinence and then total faithfulness and life long commitment in marriage. Even for Homosexuals who can't marry, they should abstain full stop, or at least remain monogamous. I went the effort of keeping myself pure and getting married. I don't want to get AIDS. I don't want to get all the other STDs either. How do I prevent that? Its easy. Get married, and stay faithful. We are human beings, not monkeys or cats and dogs. We should all stop behaving like animals and then we will lower the risk of getting STDs. The HIV rate in Indonesia for example, the biggest Muslim population in the world has an extremely low HIV infection rate, almost entirely due to Islamic family values, which are mirrored by the Christians and Jews. The issue of condoms is i! relevant.
It's not Condoms that kill, its promiscuous people that kill. Kids - if you abstain- I guarantee you won't get AIDS. Simple.
Yakoub, Worthing, UK
As a sexual health worker I was delighted with the substantive, evidence based answer given in response to the Church's misguided non-contextual "research" stating that condoms are unsafe. To all members of the public PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE believe the scientific fact and not the religious perspective. Condoms ARE safer sex and can be obtained FREE from your local sexual health centre if you register as a patient. They also protect against many other infections. Value your health.
Rachel Parker, Bradford, United Kingdom
The question that the interviewers failed to ask any of the Roman Catholic clergy, with the possible exception of the Cardinal from Brussels, was "Given that many people, perhaps a large majority, do not hold to the Christian teaching on the prohibition of sex outside marriage, should those who do have such sex use a condom to halt the spread of the AIDS virus?"
Paul Russenberger, London, UK
Excellent programme. How can such an organisation like the Catholic Church promote the cause of mass suffering and death to millions of people? Must be stopped.
Ron Maclean, Dumfries, UK
That was a completely unhelpful and confused programme. There was an opportunity to clarify the risk and it was not taken. For example a risk of 1 in 100 was quoted (actually 99% success) from studies of condom use where one partner has HIV; the comment in the programme suggested that this showed the Cardinal was wrong. While it does not support the risk values attributed to the Cardinal, it remains a consensus generally that a 1 in 100 risk is not usually acceptable (see for example 'The BMA guide to living with risk'). In conclusion it seems to me that as with many such polarised arguments, the truth is somewhere in the middle but the opportunity to clearly state this was missed.
Bill, Scotland, UK
As a Catholic myself, I am shocked at my Church's willingness to openly misinform its followers, and sacrifice millions to HIV, as a means to strengthening its moral agenda. This has led me to question my faith in the Catholic Church at a point in my life where I would much prefer it to be strong.
Damian, London, UK
The idea that condoms spread the HIV virus is extremely dangerous nonsense and I am living proof that using condoms protect against the spread of the HIV virus. My partner died because of the virus in December 1992. I am HIV negative.
Alice Kilroy, London, U.K.
I'd love to know exactly where in the bible God says that its better to kill someone by passing them AIDS than to use a device that wasn't even invented in those days. Fact is that men in the biblical times had many wives, so where does this abstinence for one partner come from? I feel sorry for the poor people in the AIDS countries who are being indoctrinated by the church, this is one issue I feel they are definately wrong about.
I am curious to know if anyone has attempted to estimate the number of people who have become infected with and/or died from HIV/AIDS as a direct result of the Vatican's stance on the use of barrier contraceptive.
Gary Keogh, Berkhamsted, UK
Congratulations on taking the time to present tonight's programme. A well researched programme which could help save lives.
Roger Sharp, Kenley, Surrey, UK
It is clear that the Catholic Church is deluding itself and millions of followers. Unfortunately for the rest of us the Vatican holds power far in excess of its democratic rights. Forget religious dogma, use condoms!
Bradley Davis, London, UK
I had an active sexual partner while living in Tanzania and used the African-made condoms while there. I can safely say that one of the primary causes of AIDS infection in African nations is the poorly made condoms. More than 75% of times, the condom would split or puncture.
Steven McCullagh, Ireland/Tanzania
What an excellent, thought provoking, thorough programme - thank you. Shame on the Roman Catholic Church.
Ali Hutchison, Altrincham, Cheshire
Speaking as an ex-catholic. What planet is the catholic church on? Not mine! Not most peoples! Not Africa's.
David Murray, UK
Putting religious views ahead of sexual health is a nonsense and will stop uneducated people from protecting themselves and their partners from sexually transmitted diseases. Medical knowledge is far greater than religious bigotry.
Kathy Dunstone, Weston-S-Mare, England
Though the science can discount 1% condom failure rate, the Roman Catholic Church cannot. Rather than use the opportunity to have a serious debate on the resolution of the AIDS epidemic, the opportunity was lost in order to attack the Church.
Paul , London, UK
Condoms are no guarantee for prevention. Man was not born with condoms, he was born with intellect (the ability to form a judgement in any given environment) what's needed is morals.
Michael, Birmingham, England
Gallileo was right the earth is flat! Evil lurks in Rome.
Colin Harrison, England
Yes Condoms may be imperfect and 15% may even allow HIV to pass through but instead of trying to disprove the Church's claims they should be asked to justify the consequences of the 85% that are prevented. In effect does the Church support the transmission of HIV in 100% or just 15% of all acts of intercourse?
Robert Lever, Oldham, England
The Catholic church's position here is as untenable as the position that used to be held by the South African government that HIV did not cause AIDS. This kind of distortion of scientific research to suit the political agenda of organisations is all too common - religious organisations are no exception and this is a clear abuse of the position of trust that the Church holds.
Jamie Graham, Oxford, UK
This has nothing to do with Aids - the hypocrisy of the Catholic church is breathtaking - their antagonism towards any sort of birth control, including condoms, has already condemned thousand upon thousands of young women to have unwanted babies; babies who will mostly be brought up in conditions of extreme poverty. The Christian ideal of children brought up in a family is very laudable, indeed desirable, but to ignore the realities of today's world is neither caring, loving or charitable.
Fiona, Insch, Scotland
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